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J Acoust Soc Am. 1989 Oct;86(4):1318-32.

Clutter interference and the integration time of echoes in the echolocating bat, Eptesicus fuscus.

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Department of Psychology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912.


The ability of the echolocating bat, Eptesicus fuscus, to detect a sonar target is affected by the presence of other targets along the same axis at slightly different ranges. If echoes from one target arrive at about the same delay as echoes from another target, clutter interference occurs and one set of echoes masks the other. Although the bat's sonar emissions and the echoes themselves are 2 to 5 ms long, echoes (of approximately equal sensation levels--around 15 dB SL) only interfere with each other if they arrive within 200 to 400 microseconds of the same arrival time. This figure is an estimate of the integration time of the bat's sonar receiver for echoes. The fine structure of the clutter-interference data reflects the reinforcement and cancellation of echoes according to their time separation. When clutter interference first occurs, the waveforms of test and cluttering echoes already overlap for much of their duration. The masking effect underlying clutter interference appears specifically due to overlap, not between raw echo waveforms, but between the patterns of mechanical excitation created when echoes pass through bandpass filters equivalent to auditory-nerve tuning curves. While the time scale of clutter interference is substantially shorter than the duration of echo waveforms, it still is much longer than the eventual width of a target's range-axis image expressed in terms of echo delay.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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